Ellis Island: Its History and Documents

Join us for a talk by Matt Weismantel, a volunteer at Ellis Island, who will consider documents generated during the immigration process and how to find and decipher the information they include.

Ellis Island served as the main entry point for millions of immigrants to the United States, with its peak years between 1892 and 1924. We will place Ellis Island within the context of US immigration history, debunking some long-standing urban legends. We will consider the documents generated as part of the immigration process, including how to find them and what information they include. We will also look at Ellis Island’s recent story, from its abandonment and partial restoration, and reflect on the conflicting yet critical story of immigration in our nation’s long history.

About our presenter: Matt Weismantel

Matt has been fascinated by history for as long as he can remember, and has had a passion for genealogy for the past 35 years. As an adoptee himself, he fully appreciates the importance of uncovering one's roots. Matt's academic background in historical geography has been invaluable in supporting his genealogical interests, and he has graduated from ProGen 47 and multiple genealogical institutes.

Matt has served in various leadership positions, including as the secretary of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), a member of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Delegate Council Steering Committee, and a trustee of the New Jersey Genealogical Society. He is also an active member of the New York Metro and Greater Philadelphia Chapters of the APG and several other local genealogical societies. Matt's work has been published in numerous local and state genealogical journals

Since retiring in 2019 from his role at Rutgers University, Matt has been dedicating his time to volunteering at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument. Specifically at the American Family Immigration History Center and the Ellis Island research library, where he enjoys helping people discover their family histories. Matt helps organize and improve access to materials on the library's history of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.


This is a free event; donations are gratefully accepted.  Please register to get a Zoom link.

July 18th, 2023 from  7:00 PM to  8:00 PM
Event Fee(s)
Voluntary donation $1.00